Hubballi: For the first time since the row over separate religion status for Lingayats erupted, state BJP president B S Yeddyurappa shared the dais with heads of 'Pancha Peethas' and scores of other seers opposed to the distinction between Veerashaivas and Lingayats, at Davangere on Wednesday.
His move assumes significance in the light of several ministers and legislators of the ruling Congress and JD (S) supporting those demanding a separate religion tag for Lingayats, and to retain his hold over voters belonging to the numerically significant community ahead of forthcoming polls to the Legislative Assembly.
Responding to felicitation by the seers, Mr Yeddyurappa indirectly clarified his stand that both Veerashaivas and Lingayats are united, and that his party leaders would stand by the decision of Dr Shivakumar Swamiji of Tumakuru Siddaganga Math. He warned Basavaraj Horatti, MLC (JD-S), against dragging his party leaders into the issue to get their support for independent status.
Mr Yeddyurappa also took part in discussions with heads of Pancha Peethas who had converged at Davangere to discuss the challenge posed by Mr Horatti for an open debate on religion status. The JD(S) leader had postponed the debate between Veerashaiva and Lingayat leaders scheduled for last month at Moorusavir Math following denial of permission by police citing law and order issues. Mr Horatti, however, invited the seers and leaders again for indoor debate in Naganur Rudrakshimutt in Belagavi on January 28, 29 or 31. "There is no confusion among BJP leaders over the issue of Veerashaivas-Lingayats", the former CM added.